Creating a website isn’t a one and done affair. Even after you’ve implemented every desired page and feature on your list, there’s still more work and money that needs to be thrown at it to keep it alive.
Now, you might be asking yourself:
How does this work? Websites aren’t machines that wear out with use, and the code doesn’t degrade over time. Right?
It’s true that websites don’t wear out with use, but you still have to pay to keep the servers running. Whether you’re hosting your own server or paying a hosting service, you’re still spending on man-hours, bandwidth, electric bills, and equipment procurement.
It’s true that code doesn’t break down, in the absence of undetected user experience-breaking bugs. However, the platforms you use to create your website aren’t getting any younger.
Over time, an older site becomes vulnerable to new security threats, and new bugs may be discovered in the platform, which are fixed in updates. Or perhaps the site might miss out on new features that could be important to SEO. That’s why a big part of site maintenance is keeping things up to date, and fixing flaws in the original code.
If you’re using a Software as a Service platform like Squarespace or Wix, you’ll often get all this work done for you as part of the package. However, if you’re self-hosting WordPress, or using a WordPress hosting provider, you’ll be responsible for paying to update your WordPress backend, your site code, and everything else.
These are important things that factor into the overall cost of maintenance. In this article, we break down how much it costs to maintain a website.
Basic Maintenance Costs
The most fundamental costs of WordPress website maintenance are the ones that you spend upfront.
First off, there’s the obvious cost of hosting your site in the first place.
If you’re self-hosting with a home server, you’re going to have to eat the costs of having a machine that’s running 24/7, as well as possibly running a business-class Internet connection.
If you’re paying for hosting services, it all depends on the quality of service that you’re looking for. BlueHost, for example, offers everything from shared hosting to dedicated servers. The monthly hosting cost can therefore range anywhere between $4 and $50 a month.
As a business site owner, you’ll want the speed, uptime, and support associated with a dedicated, managed hosting service, so $30/month is a good baseline.
With this amount, you also get your domain name and SSL certification paid for. The latter is of particular importance because not having security certification will negatively impact your SEO rankings!
If you self-host, or opt for a hosting service without domain and SSL included, you’ll have to pay for these separately. A domain name can cost $10-$30 a year depending on the top-level domain (.com, .net, etc) that you use. SSL certification costs $5 a year.
The digital age demands constant backups. It’s not as though your website is constantly teetering on the edge of destruction, but you still need the assurance that you have something to work off if you lose everything to a hardware failure or a malicious attack.
Backup services for WordPress sites are pretty common. VaultPress provides real-time backups, quick restoration, and even site migration and other features for $40 a year. Many hosting providers also have daily backups included as part of their services.
If you’re self-hosting, you can also perform backups on physical media that you own, scheduling regular backups onto physical media like optical discs or external drives. However, you need to keep the 3-2-1 backup rule in mind: Three backups – two local, and one offsite.
Malware and hacking attacks are evolving just as fast as security providers can develop new defences. It’s nearly impossible to secure a website on your own, so there are a variety of security services that can help you out.
Most security providers’ business plans include free installation of their security platform into your site, including implementation of firewalls, threat scanners, and protection against DDoS attacks which could take your server down. Such services may cost between $30 and $100 a month. That said, many services include SSL certification and even regular backups, so you can think of this as a discount.
There are no actual upfront costs associated with keeping your WordPress site up to date.
However, there’s an incredible time sink associated with keeping your platform updated, continuously optimizing your content for SEO, ensuring that you’re compliant with important practices such as responsive design, and working on your themes to keep them looking good.
Taking on this task on your own will take up time that could be better spent working on growing your business, engaging your customers, or producing valuable content.
You can alternatively hire an in-house IT team, but this will incur a large cost just for this purpose.
A better solution to this, and indeed many of the other problem costs we’ve described, is to hire a service provider that specifically works on WordPress sites, for maintenance and support.
At Rock Paper Digital, we take care of your site for you, getting the menial technical labor off your shoulders and allowing you to focus on your business.
For as low as $97 a month, we offer hosting, security, performance tuning, SEO tutorials, and overall site maintenance. We even provide monthly reports on all the changes we’ve made to your site, as well as server uptime and website traffic.
You can even ask us to do any task on your website that takes under 30 minutes! Our entry level plan includes 2 x 30 minute tasks and our top plan includes unlimited tasks!